I accidentally deleted this post from before, so I had to completely rewrite it…I have to confess an unreasonable amount of frustration after I realized what I’d done…hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything really significant!
The best thing a leader can do is NOT to be in front of people, dragging them behind. The best thing a leader can do IS to be behind people, pushing them to go places on their own. The primary purpose of leaders in ministry should be to encourage others into their gifts, to help others realize their callings, and to provide others with the means to accomplish what God has laid before them. Brad Cooper said “People are saved from hell, but they are saved for a purpose. If they did not have purpose in the kingdom, God would take them straight to heaven right when they became saved.”
Leaders—draw out the purpose in people.
Here are just a few ways we can do this (NOTE – this is by no means an exhaustive list):
1) Empower them. Too many leaders keep all the responsibility to themselves and don’t trust the people they’re leading. If you don’t put trust in the people following you, they won’t be able to put trust in you either. Remember than when the disciples came to Jesus about the five thousand hungry men, He told the disciples to feed them before He fed them Himself (Mt 14:15-16)! Show them that they have purpose that is of equal importance to your own purpose (as it is given by the same God), and have the faith in them that they need to have in God.
2) Help those you’re leading do what you’re doing better than you. YOU ARE NOT ETERNAL! Your time may be now, but it won’t be always. It is our responsibility to build up followers of Jesus who not only do what we do, but do what we do better than we do it. God wants His church to grow, and if we never help people to achieve more than we do, we become the biggest obstacle for our ministry. You must lead in a way that makes you unnecessary because of how prepared you’ve made everyone else. Follow Jesus’ example when He told His disciples that they would do “greater things than these;” we should be able to say that to the people we’re leading!
3) Humble yourself. This is the most important thing a leader can do. The less glory you take for yourself, the more glory goes to God…He is most glorified when you are most humbled. You are not leading your ministry, God is leading His ministry and just so happened to choose you as His vessel. When we forget that, we become poor stewards—broken vessels—that end up “sinking” the opportunity He has given us. This doesn’t mean we can’t be confrontational and confident: Jesus was both, but still willing to humble Himself further than we can really grasp (Php 2:8). What it DOES mean is that we’ve got to put others before ourselves, and make sure our leadership serves them, rather than demanding that they serve us.
How else can you draw out the purpose in people?